(إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَ الْإِحْسانِ): الْعَدْلُ الاْنْصَافُ، وَالاْحْسَانُ التَّفَضُّل۔ُ
Verily, Allah enjoins justice ('adl) and benevolence (ihsan), (Qur'an, 16:90). Here 'adl means equidistribution and ihsan means favour.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #231)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, the Ahl al-Bayt, and his noble companions.
The Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states,
Verily, Allah enjoins justice ('adl) and benevolence (ihsan), (Qur'an, 16:90). Here 'adl means equidistribution and ihsan means favor.
Let us delve into the meanings of the important words in this Hadith. The word 'adl, translated as justice, refers to the act of establishing fairness and equity. It entails treating all individuals with equality and ensuring that their rights are upheld. 'Adl also encompasses the concept of equidistribution, which means the fair distribution of resources and opportunities among people. It is a fundamental principle in Islam, as Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) commands us to be just in all our dealings.
The word ihsan, translated as benevolence, refers to acts of kindness, generosity, and going above and beyond what is required. It is the act of doing good to others without expecting anything in return. Ihsan is a higher level of righteousness and is encouraged in Islam as a means of attaining nearness to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ). It is a reflection of the mercy and compassion that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) has bestowed upon us.
To understand the significance of this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. In Surah An-Nahl (16:90), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
This verse emphasizes the importance of justice and ihsan in our lives. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) commands us to establish justice in all aspects of our lives, whether it be in our personal relationships, business dealings, or societal interactions. Justice ensures that everyone is treated fairly and their rights are protected.
Furthermore, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) encourages us to go beyond justice and practice ihsan. This means that we should not only fulfill our obligations but also extend acts of kindness and benevolence towards others. By doing so, we embody the spirit of Islam and emulate the noble character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and the Ahl al-Bayt.
The concept of equidistribution, mentioned in the Hadith as the meaning of 'adl, is also supported by the Quran. In Surah Al-Hashr (59:7), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,
And what Allah restored to His Messenger from the people of the towns - it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and orphans and the [stranded] traveler - so that it will not be a perpetual distribution among the rich from among you. And whatever the Messenger has given you - take; and what he has forbidden you - refrain from. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.
This verse highlights the importance of equitable distribution of wealth and resources. It teaches us that the wealth and resources of a society should not be concentrated in the hands of a few, but rather should be distributed among the needy and deserving individuals. This is a manifestation of justice and a means to alleviate poverty and inequality in society.
In light of this Hadith and the Quranic verses, we understand that justice and ihsan are integral to the teachings of Islam. They are not mere recommendations but rather commandments from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) Himself. By practicing justice and ihsan, we create a harmonious and just society where everyone's rights are respected and individuals are treated with kindness and compassion.
Moreover, this Hadith serves as a reminder for Muslims to reflect upon their actions and strive to embody the qualities of justice and ihsan in their daily lives. It encourages us to be fair in our dealings, to treat others with kindness, and to go above and beyond what is expected of us. By doing so, we not only fulfill our duties as Muslims but also contribute to the betterment of society as a whole.
In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the importance of justice and ihsan in Islam. It reminds us of our duty to establish fairness and equity in all aspects of our lives and to go beyond justice by practicing acts of kindness and benevolence. By adhering to these principles, we can create a just and compassionate society that reflects the teachings of Islam. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) guide us all to follow the path of justice and ihsan.
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